Vice President and Treasurer, World Bank, Ms. Arunma Oteh yesterday urged the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) to ensure listing the of 44,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) out of 44 million operating on the continent.
Oteh, who is a former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), made the call while speaking at the 22nd ASEA annual general meeting and conference hosted by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, (NSE) in Lagos.
According to her, the exchanges must nature and ensure listing of these firms on their various bourses as part of efforts to deep the markets in Africa.
Oteh, explained that SMEs are strong drivers for economic growth and development, saying that their major challenge is access to finance.
She said that African needed to build infrastructure and diversify economies beyond commodities and natural resources extraction.
Oteh said: “If we focus in areas of opportunities that abound whether in agriculture, services, retail, technology, particularly emerging technology, financial services, and hospitality, sustainability will be more granted. We must also foster innovation and entrepreneurship and I believe that securities exchanges are the epicentre of the ecosystem,” she said.
She stated that various emerging markets and Africa were still struggling with more difficult financial conditions, debt burden concerns, and weak commodity prices, among others.
“I will say that the greatest challenges of our time are extreme poverty, inequality, climate change, protectionism, populism, anti-globalisation, ethnic sentiment and uncertainty over the impact of disruptive technologies,” Oteh said.
In his address, President of ASEA, Mr. Oscar Onyema, said that strategic relationships of the association had resulted in grants worth approximately $1.2 million from the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) fund via the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).
Onyema, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said that the grants received to date were targeted at the African Exchanges Linkage Project (AELP), ASEA secondment programme, information portal and annual conferences.
“These programmes are critical levers of success for ASEA and we aim to continue to broaden and deepen our relationships in order to create increasing value for members and the African financial market.
“To this end, tomorrow we will officially sign a memorandum of understanding with the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). I will like to thank the WFE and we look forward to working with the Federation on many initiatives.
“To ensure we deliver value for members and partners, we created a five year strategy running from 2019 – 2023 which will provide a structured approach to delivering on our initiatives.